Tennessee drug overdose deaths increased 25.6% in 2021

There was a 25.6% increase from the year before in Tennessee drug overdose deaths between December 2020 and December 2021, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Tennessee had 3,937 overdose deaths in December 2021, which ranked seventh nationally. Only Florida (8,171), Texas (5,033), California (11,704), Ohio (5,407), Pennsylvania (5,483), and North Carolina (4,023) had more overdose deaths in December 2021. None of those states saw as high of a rate of increase as Tennessee during that one-year span.

Tennessee’s percentage increase was similar to some of its surrounding states, with Mississippi (28.75%), Alabama (29.77%) and Georgia (27.67%) showing significant increases.

Overall in the U.S., the CDC estimated that there were 107,622 drug overdose deaths in December 2021, which set a record. The data showed a steady increase since Jan. 2015, when 48,126 drug overdose deaths were reported. That number was 93,655 in December 2020.

The CDC has said that substance and drug abuse has risen during COVID-19 closures as “social isolation and increased anxiety also caused more Americans to say they were struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.”

The overdose death counts remain provisional as the CDC continues to collect data and “drug overdose deaths often require lengthy investigations, and death certificates may be initially filed with a manner of death ‘pending investigation’ and/or with a preliminary or unknown cause of death” according to the report.

Previous data shows that the May data release for Tennessee, separated out monthly, is likely to be between 84% and 98% complete for each month. The CDC then uses those records to accurately predict what the final overdose death count will be as final data is collected.

The overall rate went up 15% between December 2020 and December 2021 while the Midwest was a large factor in that increase with Minnesota showing a 26.01% increase. Indiana overdose deaths increased by 21.26% while Wisconsin was up 13.97%, Iowa was up 12.41% and Michigan was up 9.31%.

“Drug overdose deaths may involve multiple drugs; therefore, a single death might be included in more than one category when describing the number of drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs,” the report explained. “For example, a death that involved both heroin and fentanyl would be included in both the number of drug overdose deaths involving heroin and the number of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone.”

Per previous reporting from The Center Square, drugs deemed responsible for the overdose deaths include:

• Heroin.

• Natural opioid analgesics, including morphine and codeine.

• Semisynthetic opioids, including drugs such as oxycodone hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone.

• Methadone, a synthetic opioid.

• Synthetic opioid analgesics other than methadone, including fentanyl and tramadol.

• Cocaine.

• Psychostimulants with abuse potential, which includes methamphetamine.

This article was originally posted on Tennessee drug overdose deaths increased 25.6% in 2021

Author: Jon Styf

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